The Tamil Nadu government has decided to disregard Governor RN Ravi’s order dismissing jailed Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Senthil Balaji from the council of ministers, state minister Thangam Thennarasu said on Friday, reported The Hindu.
On Thursday evening, Ravi had passed the order citing “serious criminal proceedings” in a number of cases against Balaji. “Abusing his post as a minister, he has been influencing the investigation and obstructing the due process of law and justice,” he had said.
Soon afterwards, Chief Minister MK Stalin told reporters that Ravi did not have the power to dismiss the minister, and that the government would deal with the matter legally, according to PTI.
Subsequently, Ravi put his decision on hold after facing a backlash from the state government. The governor wrote to Stalin on Thursday night that he was advised by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to seek the Attorney General’s opinion on the dismissal order.
Thennarasu on Friday said the governor’s actions were untenable in law. He questioned how Balaji could influence the investigation when he was in judicial custody.
Balaji held the portfolios of electricity and prohibition and excise when he was arrested earlier this month. After his arrest, the state government reallocated his portfolios to his Cabinet colleagues Thennarasu and S Muthusamy. Balaji was made minister without a portfolio.
Case against Senthil Balaji
On June 14, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Balaji on the allegations of conspiring with transport corporation officials to appoint candidates recommended by his aides. The agency has claimed that crores of rupees were taken as bribes from candidates in exchange for jobs.
The alleged irregularities took place between 2014 and 2015, when Balaji was the state transport minister. He was then a leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He joined the DMK in December 2018.
Earlier this month, two public interest litigations were filed before the Madras High Court challenging the DMK leader’s continuation in the Cabinet despite him being in judicial custody. On June 26, the court had asked the petitioners if there was any legal provision that allowed the governor to dismiss a state minister.
The DMK leader is currently admitted to the Kauvery Hospital in Chennai as he underwent a bypass surgery on June 21.